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The Sorrows of Young Werther [Hardcover]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
Price: 10.21 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Nov 2002
A major work of German romanticism in a translation that is acknowledged as the definitive English language version. The Vintage Classics edition also includes NOVELLA, Goethe's poetic vision of an idyllic pastoral society Since 1917 The Modern Library prides itself as ''The modern Library of the world s Best Books''. Its paperback series feature treasured classics, major translations of great works, and rediscoveries of keen literary and historical merit.Featuring introductions by leading writers, stunning translations, scholarly endnotes and reading group guides. Production values emphasize superior quality and readability. Competitive prices, coupled with exciting cover design make these an ideal gift to be cherished by the avid reader.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: (1 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1404331425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1404331426
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 0.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,842,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born in Frankfurt in 1749. He is best remembered for his great works The Sorrows of Young Werther and Faust, and his part in the 18th century 'Sturm and Drang' movement. He died in 1832. Michael Hulse is an acclaimed literary German translator. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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'This spring,' wrote Christian Kestner in 1772, 'a certain Goethe came here. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Novel that Caused a Huge Sensation 1 Dec 2002
We tend to think of our era as unique when we descry the impact that the media has on our young people's behavior. Well the same thing happened 200 years ago when this book was first published. Impressionable young readers who identified so completely with Werther went out and committed suicide by the droves.
Werther is the prototypical Romantic male, who "feels" more deeply than the rest of humanity. Unlike Heathcliffe, who settles on revenge as an answer to his thwarted designs, Werther takes it out on himself. Of course, there's a great deal of self-destruction at work in Heathcliffe's persona too.
I would recommend this to a reader who is just getting to know Goethe. I read it when I was about eighteen and it definitely struck a nerve with me at that time. It made me want to read everything by Goethe I could find in translation.
Read it, and if you like it, as I am sure you will, go on to Goethe's two great Romantic novels, Elective Affinities and Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. I found in my earlier readings that I never went wrong with Penguin Classics translations. They're normally all top-notch, whether Greek, Latin, French, German, Russian, etc. PS: If you're a young reader, please don't take Werther too much to heart. It's only a novel, ok?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, it really touched a part of my soul. 22 Aug 2009
The sorrows of young Werther is, in my humble opinion, one of the best stories I have read.

The majority of the narrative is written in the words of Werther himself in the form of letters to his brother Wilhelm and it starts slowly but I would urge the reader to be patient as the story blossoms.

I found myself sympathising with Werther and his unrequieted love for Lotte having been there more than once in my life and feeling the same pain and elation in the same heart beat, the uncertainty and the joy. I found Goethe's text mirroring real life, I later discovered that it is based on his own unrequieted love and so was an out pouring of his feelings.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book and it was my first Goethe and I am looking forward to reading more and would urge anyone who has felt the same pain or has an interest in classic literature to read this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey alongside genius 28 July 2010
Two true stories woven together so as to provide a tragic love story and a direct insight into Goethe's mind. Simple, poetic, tragic and thoughtful. A journey alongside genius.

When Napoleon met Goethe he is reported to have said, "There is a Man!" Napoleon was a big fan of Goethe and read this book no less than seven times. Perhaps not surprisingly, because its semi-autobiographical nature makes it an almost direct insight into Goethe's genius.

The story is based on two separate but related true stories. First Goethe's own stay in the village of Wetzlar in 1771 when he was 23. He met Charlotte Buff who was engaged to Christian Kestner and seems to have fallen in love with her and possibly her with him, but neither acted on their feelings out of respect and possibly love for Kestner. The second concerns a mutual friend, Wilhelm Jerusalem, who shot himself over his love for Elisabeth Herd, a married woman. Much is known of the actual facts of these two stories and Goethe's synthesis of himself and Jerusalem into the fictional Werther follows the facts remarkably closely so that it seems when he talks about Werther's feelings he is describing his own.

Goethe has that clarity and simplicity of thought that defines genius and he has sufficient self-confidence in his own abilities so as not to need to display his cleverness. Instead he plainly and simply sets out the story and his/Werther's thoughts and emotions about what is happening. He tries to be a fine human being against the tide of his emotions, and there is much to appreciate in his relationships with others and in his observations about the simple pleasures in life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The storm and urge of young Goethe 31 Dec 2012
By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
Werther was an important and influential novel of the Sturm und Drang period. Goethe was 26 when he wrote it. It was his first novel and brought him instant fame. It is something of a young person's novel, overbrimming with emotional drama. In later life, Goethe distanced himself from it somewhat.

I found the early part too overheated for my taste (a bit too much of a Sturm in a teacup) but Werther's obsessive passion becomes more authentic and compelling later in the story. And, some way through the book, there are very fine descriptive passages. The ending is extraordinary - dark, dramatic, disturbing. It is difficult now to understand the impact the novel had at the time, as it was so perfectly suited to the zeitgeist, so different from our own.

I read the Modern Library Classics edition, translated and introduced by Burton Pike. I have not read other editions, so cannot compare them, but I can tell you that this one is excellent. Werther presents a particular challenge to the English translator, because it includes a sizeable extract from The Songs of Ossian, by James Macpherson, translated into German. So does the translator attempt a translation of Goethe's German version, which is rather more passionate and free-flowing than the original, or is it better to simply revert to the original English version? Pike chooses the latter course, wisely in my opinion, and adds an explanatory footnote. He also discusses the issue in the Introduction.

If you want to get to know Goethe's work (and if you enjoy good literature, you should) then this first novel is a logical place to start, but be assured that his more mature work is far better.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor digitisation ruins this edition
Buyer beware.

Dozens of transcription errors make reading this edition far more of a chore than it ought to be. Read more
Published 18 months ago by J Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of Romanticism
The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, is an exciting read for anyone interested in the Romantic period. Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2012 by E.V. Hallett
4.0 out of 5 stars sorrows of young werther
good book even though it doesn't look like one! good for anyone who likes to read a little bit of romance,
i hope the rest of you enjoy it as much as i did!
Published on 24 Dec 2011 by maryam
4.0 out of 5 stars a great story
the sorrows of young werther is a story of deep love and how it can affect a person in the most terrible ways if the feeling is not mutual. Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2011 by purple dreamz
2.0 out of 5 stars It might be a classic but it's also absurd
I was keen to get into Goethe and so read this. Frankly, it's extraordinarily dated. It's hard not to laugh at this ludicrous protagonist who is so wet he might as well be a... Read more
Published on 15 April 2010 by Frederick Helmersley-Bott
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound - but not for everyone
I read this book as part of my English degree, and turned out to be the only person in class to really enjoy it. Read more
Published on 13 May 2009 by Mysterio
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a story for the cynics!
Werther falls in love with a woman who is engaged to another man. As a result he suffers miserably, tormented by his existence, unable to dispel the burning desire in his `sorely... Read more
Published on 27 Dec 2006 by Room For A View
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing
I expected to enjoy this book. I'm keen on literature from this period and I'm not averse to a bit of tragedy. Unfortunately I found Werther in love to be utterly unconvincing. Read more
Published on 2 Mar 2005
1.0 out of 5 stars Overwrought and unbelievable
'TSOYW' is touted as being one of Europes first tragic novels. It follows the story of Werther's love for Lotte, a love that is doomed to be unfulfilled because she is marrying... Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2004 by Depressaholic
5.0 out of 5 stars "Be on your guard..."
"...and take care not to fall in love!" Truly the first, and still the greatest, pieces of 'confessional' writing on the up's and down's, the trials and tribulations, that come... Read more
Published on 30 Mar 2004 by "selex_2000"
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